Okay, I have to start by saying that my first experiences with pudding weren't actually that good. In Norway they sell something called pudding, which I think is actually closer to a panna cotta, being that it is stiff enough to be sliced, packaged in these odd triangular pyramidal waxed cardboard packages. You open up the package and turn out the gelatinous mass onto a platter and serve it with vanilla sauce. We used to have it sometimes on my birthday - luckily there was cake too, because the pudding just wasn't that tasty. However, upon discovering creamy pudding cups in the grocery store in the US, I became obsessed.
I adore pudding with all its creamy comfort. And chocolate pudding is simply tops. I have discovered in my trials of stovetop puddings that I like a combination of thickening agents, both cornstarch and egg yolk, to get the proper consistency and richness. And like with my hot chocolate, I prefer to use both cocoa and chopped chocolate for flavor. The secret of this chocolate pudding is that you caramelize the sugar before adding the milk. It doesn't give the pudding caramel flavor, but it deepens and softens the chocolate flavor, lifting it to new heights. With a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraîche (and I love to toss on some berries or chopped crystallized ginger too), this pudding is perfect as an after school/work snack but could also be served in wine glasses at a nice party. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice
Test Kitchen Notes
There are two distinct flavors wrapped into this one special dessert: The caramel flavor from cooking the sugar and a strong chocolate flavor. When I made the pudding for a second time, I made a slight modification to the recipe by adding 2 tbsp. of sugar to the cocoa, cornstarch mixture. Without this addition, the pudding wasn’t sweet enough for me. (The only sugar in the recipe is cooked into the caramel and adds only a layer of caramel flavor but no sweetness.) I used Lindt semi-sweet chocolate and Ghiradelli cocoa in the recipe. Be careful when adding the milk to the hot sugar mixture, since tiny curds may form. These curds are easily removed by straining as the recipe recommends in the final step. —ECmtl
large egg yolks
(scant) finely chopped, really good quality semisweet chocolate (around 70% cocoa content)
(a healthy one) fine sea salt
chopped crystallized ginger
In This Recipe
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and cocoa powder. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk until the powders dissolve. Make sure there are no lumps.
In another bowl (sorry for the high bowl usage!) whisk the egg yolks briefly to lighten them. Set to the side.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over medium high heat until it starts to melt. As it starts to melt, gently stir it with a heat proof spatula until it is fully melted, then let it cook until it has turned a deep amber color - it will smell caramelly and almost be starting to smoke (this takes up to about 8 minutes, but you need to be vigilant the whole time). Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour in about a half cup of the plain milk. Be careful! It will hiss and splatter and the caramel will seize up, but don't worry, it will be okay! Pour in the rest of the milk, bring to a simmer, and keep stirring until the caramel is all dissolved. At this point, stir in the cocoa and cornstarch mixture.
Keep stirring over medium low heat until the mixture starts to thicken enough to thickly coat the back of the spatula. Turn the heat down low. Whisk 1/4-1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Be sure to stir well the whole time to keep the yolks from curdling. Repeat twice with another 2 ladle-fulls of the hot milk. Now scrape the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Turn the heat back up to medium low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough that the spatula leaves trails and if you lift it the mixture glops off instead of running off in a stream.
Remove the pudding from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is entirely melted and mixed in. Finally stir in the vanilla and salt. If the pudding seems lumpy you can press it through a strainer into a bowl, but I generally don't actually find this to be necessary.
Pour the pudding into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the pudding if you wish to avoid a pudding skin forming. Put in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least a few hours and up to a couple of days. When ready to serve, scoop the pudding into bowls. If desired top with dollops of the creme fraiche (first whisk the creme fraiche with the 1/2 tsp. sugar) and a sprinkling of chopped crystallized ginger, or some sweetened whipped cream (whip in a bit of espresso powder for a serious treat).
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.